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April 1, 2019
MY COMEBACK JOURNEY
As the wheelchair carried me through the Twin Cities Orthopedics (TCO) Urgent Care door, my thoughts kept returning to the moment on the bike trail where I crashed while bicycle riding. While waiting to be seen by the nurse practitioner (NP), my thoughts drifted back to the beginning of the bike ride, where I visualized the beautiful crisp fall day, until I was jolted back to reality from the searing pain I was experiencing from the bike accident.
“What exactly happened to cause the bike accident?” asked the NP.
“I have no memory of it,” I said. “I recall riding on the Gateway Bike Trail when suddenly I was out of control and slammed on to the asphalt, losing consciousness.”
The NP began gently assessing me noting bruising and swelling over the right clavicle and shoulder, the left hand and wrist, and the right hip to the knee. X-rays were taken and a follow up appointment was scheduled with Dr. Knowlan.
Dr. Knowlan’s assessment determined I had a Grade I AC joint separation and a large hematoma of the right thigh. He suggested an MRI of the left hand/wrist since I was still swollen, bruised and tender to the touch. The MRI revealed a fractured left scaphoid. Dr. Knowlan referred me to Dr. Karlstad for follow up with the fractured scaphoid.
Three months past when Dr. Karlstad determined that the scaphoid was fused enough that I could transition from a cast to a custom-made removable splint. At this time, hand physical therapy (PT) was added to my list of rehabilitation routine.
My rehabilitation journey began with concussion PT at the Training HAUS since I was diagnosed with a concussion by the neurologist. The physical therapist designed a program so I could begin to walk on the treadmill and regain my strength.
Each day I tackled the various tasks before me on the road towards recovery. There were so many activities that I struggled to do or could not do such as driving, working, walking my dogs, preparing meals, cleaning my house, fall cleanup in the yard, changing the sheets on my bed, volunteering at church or as a therapy dog handler, and training with my triathlon group. My frustration would wax and wane as each week passed.
Four weeks post-accident, the physical therapist stated that I could begin to drive. I recall walking to my car after my PT session and informing my friend, who drove me, that I was going to drive home. I felt a sense of triumph that not only was I able to drive but I was slowly regaining my independence. During this time frame I was able to walk half of a mile.
My walking distance increased to 1-1.5 miles by the tenth week, and preparing my own meals was more doable. I was able to start swimming and riding a stationary bike in my cast. I was little by little making a comeback.
As the weeks went by and I was able to walk longer distances, my left foot began to hurt. I made an appointment with Dr. Clair. He determined that I had cuboid syndrome. He felt that when I was thrown forward over the bike’s handle bars that my foot, being cleated to the bike pedal, popped out of the pedal hard enough to contribute to the diagnosis. Foot PT was added to my rehabilitation journey.
Several times a week I would visit TCO for doctor and PT appointments. Twenty-one weeks after the bike accident, the scaphoid fracture had healed enough so I did not need to wear the splint. I had both hands free. I could finally walk my two dogs and put a fitted sheet on the mattress.
Returning to work as a nurse anesthetist after 25 weeks was an incredible victory. I wondered every week during my rehabilitation if I would be able to preform my job. Exhausted at the end of my first day, I smiled at my accomplishments knowing I was back.
The TCO team has been supportive and encouraging throughout my feat of weekly rehabilitation. As I reflect over the past 6 months, I know the TCO crew, who have been a pivotal role in my rehabilitation comeback, were (are) smiling with me each step of the way through my journey to recovery.